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ASU program wins national award for community impact

November 18, 2009

An Arizona State University program that has helped nearly 8,700 parents across the Valley improve the education of their struggling children earned one of the nation's most prestigious community engagement awards.

The American Dream Academy received the 2009 C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award from A۰P۰L۰U, the oldest higher education association in America.

The American Dream Academy has had a profound impact on Phoenix's K-12 educational community. Parents of struggling K-12 students enter the nine-week program to gain knowledge and skills necessary to improve the educational development of their children, including methods to improve parent/child relationships, reduce dropout rates and ensure high school graduation.

Since October 2006, the program has "graduated" parents of students attending 41 different schools, and indirectly impacted more than 24,000 low-income, minority youth throughout the greater Phoenix region. 

"The American Dream project is a model for engagement and outreach for public institutions. Its impact on the Phoenix area will be felt for years to come," said Lee Todd, chairman of the A۰P۰L۰U board of directors and president of the University of Kentucky. "Public universities, like Arizona State and the other four regional winners, exemplify the spirit and vision of university engagement championed by Peter Magrath, and we salute their fine work."

The Magrath Award recognizes the outreach and engagement partnerships of four-year public universities. It includes $20,000 and a trophy. Arizona State was chosen from a pool of regional winners that included Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Georgia. Pennsylvania State University was ineligible for the national award this year since it won in 2008.

"The American Dream Academy is creating opportunities for children to achieve the education they deserve," says Raul Yzaguirre, executive director of ASU's Center for Community Development and Civil Rights, which oversees the program. "The program is a mutually beneficial partnership that aids in the transformation of the community and changes the way people think about the university." 

The American Dream project, which is underwritten by ASU, the Helios Education Foundation, SRP, participating schools and districts, and other funding partners, creates a community where parents and teachers collaborate to transform each child's educational environment at home and at school. The American Dream Academy is the signature program of ASU's Center for Community Development and Civil Rights at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

SRP provided audio, video and editing services for a video about the program which was used as part of the award nomination. View the video at

Made possible by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the award was presented during the A۰P۰L۰U Annual Meeting on Sunday in Washington, D.C. The award was established in 2006 and is named for C. Peter Magrath, who served as president of the association from 1992-2005.

The ASU Center for Community Development and Civil Rights works to build bridges between ASU and the community to address problems, share knowledge and act as a catalyst for transformation. Its programs are designed to strengthen low-income, marginalized populations and help them become knowledgeable in education, finance, healthcare, and the basics of housing, transportation and local ordinances. For information about the center, visit

Founded in 1887, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U) is an association of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and many state public university systems. Its 219 members enroll more than 4.7 million students, award nearly one million degrees annually and conduct nearly two-thirds of all academic research, totaling more than $34 billion annually. As the nation's oldest higher education association, A۰P۰L۰U is dedicated to excellence in learning, discovery and engagement. For more information, visit